New Site Coming Soon....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Elkhart Lake/Trinona Double: Breakthrough

I don't think it is possible for me to look up a race result from the past 2 years and see a performance that I was happy with. I have struggled mightily with racing no matter how hard, well, or consistent I trained. My season started off on the wrong foot with my bad luck down in Knoxville, followed by the news my bike was damaged beyond repair and that I was becoming a bit sick. Through all of it I remained as positive as I could and knew I would see progress come eventually. This was the first sign to me that I was maturing more as an athlete and giving myself the proper patience that is sometimes needed.

After a solid race week excited by getting more sleep then I have in years, and actually taking the time to nap I felt rested and ready to go.

Elkhart Lake
I was third to start the TT start, not being in the elite wave this time had me hoping to be in the front of the race the entire day, or close to it. I got out to the first buoy and had clear water in front of me. I made the turn left and thought we had to swim around the next yellow buoy before turning right to the middle of the lake. As I approached the following yellow buoy I had a paddle boarder stop me and wave me back on course. I guess we just needed to slowly cut over to the buoy line so that mistake errored me about 50 meters. Once I got back on course I started to catch up with the collegiate wave ahead of me and made my way through them. Once to the turnaround I was in clear water again and ready to get back to shore. Unfortunately the race only had about 3 buoys to mark the about 700 meter swim back to shore so sighting was difficult. I ended up swimming into 2 paddle boarders, and then cutting to the left of the course as well. In the end I was about :05 seconds faster then last year and swam probably an extra 50-75 meters.


As I headed out to the bike I felt great and ready to tackle the very tricky course. 45k of rollers with some hills that are a bit more difficult if you are not paying attention. My goal wattage was about 260 and I setup my Garmin to take splits every 5 miles to see how consistently I was riding throughout the ride. As we rode out of town I kept the power a bit higher per usual but quickly found my pace and rhythm a few miles in. I could never get into a solid grove but I did maintain an even power output through most of the ride. I was trailing the elite wave but passed most of the collegiate wave and rode solo for just about all 28 miles. I lost a few positions toward the end of the ride, but wanted to drop my power a bit to prep for the run. I ended the ride just above my goal wattage at 262w. 

As I started off on the run I looked down and saw that I was running about a 7:15 pace .5 miles into the run. Because this run course is very hilly and long (Garmin measured 6.4 miles) I wanted to run a bit more on the conservative side and stay at about a 7:45 pace before really pushing hard the last couple miles. What resulted was my best run off the bike ever. While it was not as fast as I wanted it was the performance I needed. I found myself finally learning to stay in the moment and take each step at a time. I sometimes during the run found myself in such a deep focus that I wouldn't even notice friends passing on the other side giving praise until they shouted at me after we passed each other (sorry guys!).  I got to 4 miles and felt good, really good, and mentally finally strong! At about the 4.5 mile mark on the course a climb starts that is considered to be a cat 3 climb for cycling. I put my head down, shortened my stride and did my best to get over the hill, only losing one position only to regain it on the cruise back down. Finally at the 5 mile mark I gave it everything I had left and pushed it home. On the final stretch I could hear another competitor breathing down my neck and did my best to fight him off for probably a solid .25 mile until Pete Reinhard passed me right before the chute (great finish bud).

I walked away from this race feeling confident and proud of my efforts. I also finally put together a solid race from start to finish that I can carry with me into the rest of the season.

The day didn't end with the race, I still had to drive back to Madison, pick up some gear and borrow my parents couch and fridge for some recovery. A quick nap and I was back on the road "home" to La Crosse. I was going to finally get to sleep in my own bed before a race! Bedtime came at 11:30 and I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

I woke up at 430 Sunday morning in my own bed for once with the grunt of aches and pains. As I looked outside to see rain I knew I would be battle cold and rain once again, it seems to be the running theme this year for races. When I reached for my phone this was what I first saw
To which I responded with...

I grabbed a quick breakfast and once again did some fine tuning on my fit in the kitchen as I tried my best to get going.

With the work done Saturday, my goal for Trinona was to have fun and see how hard I could push and hang towards the front. No expectations just an experimental day

I was in the first wave which had about 1/2 the male field. It was a knee deep water start. The horn blew and I got off the front right away. It was the usually scrum towards the first buoy with myself and 2 others fighting for space the entire way out. Once we got to the first buoy I saw a couple swimmers already make the turn. As I made the turn I tried to see if I could bridge the gap but found myself down about 25-30 meters already. I decided to find a solid rhythm, keep the pace high and drop those behind me. What resulted was a solid swim that netted me fourth out of the water with a sizable gap to the next swimmer. The key with my swim was a high stroke rate, great sighting, and a solid rhythm. No video was captured however, I feel that this is suitable for what it looked like.

As I got towards the mount line and with the rainstorm before the race, the timing mats were wet. Smooth rubber with some water and wet feet do not mix and I was down before I knew it. I was also back up on on my way off before I knew it too. I ended up picking up a spot as well starting the bike. My legs felt surprisingly good given the efforts I put in yesterday. By the time that I got to the 6 mile turnaround I found myself in 4th position. It was here that I decided to go for it and see how long I could hang. My 4th place position lasted until mile 12 when we climbed Garvin Heights (1.15 miles 9.9% avg grade) I simply could not get up the hill fast enough and knew my power wasn't quite where I wanted it. I dropped about 6 positions as I could start to feel the fatigue in my legs from the weekend. Once I got to the top my power wasn't quite as high as I wanted but I still made in back to transition with a solid effort. I did back off some on the last 10 miles with a fast decent, and technical turns on wet roads through neighborhoods. Being on another borrowed bike I simply couldn't take the aggressive turns and risks that I wanted. I got back to transition feeling relatively good but didn't know what the run had in store for me.

As I ran out of transition I decided to do something I've never really done. Pick a runner up the road, set my sights on them and make the pass. 1 mile in and I made my first pass, as I looked for the next runner and found myself running 7:28 pace, I felt rather good aerobically, but well fatigued from a muscular standpoint. I couldn't keep the cadence that I wanted so I decided to hold as close to 7:20-7:25 pace that I could. I never thought or looked more then 5 steps ahead and continued to stay in the moment. All I did was focus on my breathing, cadence, and keeping as good a run form as I could. What resulted was my best 10k run off the bike a day after a hard race. I bested my effort from Saturday, even though my pace was the exact same. I Simply felt that I ran better on Sunday. As soon as I finished I took my shoes off and noticed the punishment my legs and feet received from my fall 30 miles ago. No wonder the run was so uncomfortable.

All in all this was not only a crazy fun, exhausting weekend, but a weekend that really gave me a lot of confidence and signs of things to come. Once I really get my fitness to levels it should be at not only will my race execution be great, but my times should finally show what I can do in training. Onward progress!

A huge thank your goes out to Zach Lammers for lending me his bike for the weekend!

Stats from the weekend
Miles driven: 496
Miles raced: 67
Total Racing Time: 5:04:17
Hours of sleep between races: 4
PR's: 2